Out of joint

Even the slight­est move­ment can leave Deb­bie Rocke, 36, from Broad­stairs, with dis­lo­cated joints

Pick Me Up! Special - - News -

Grit­ting my teeth, I winced in pain as the doc­tor pushed my arm back into place.

The bone had come out of its socket, leav­ing me in agony.

But while most peo­ple would think this was due to a se­ri­ous in­jury, like a car crash or a bad fall down the stairs, it was caused by sim­ply lift­ing up the ket­tle…

As strange as it sounds, this was nor­mal for me.

My whole life, I’d been in and out of the hospi­tal get­ting my joints put back to­gether af­ter an­other mi­nor in­jury.

I first no­ticed that some­thing wasn’t right when I was a teenager.

My joints had be­come painful and weak, and I was al­ways twist­ing my an­kles or in­jur­ing my knees.

‘It’s just grow­ing pains,’ my doc­tor had said.

But, fin­ish­ing school and get­ting a job in a pri­mary school, my joints kept aching.

In 2000, I gave birth to my daugh­ter Chloe, and four years later, I had my son, Tom.

Over the years, I was con­stantly tak­ing parac­eta­mol and ibupro­fen for the pain, but these were only ever a tem­po­rary fix. Be­ing a sin­gle mum to two kids took its toll, and my pain be­came worse.

Then in 2009, I met Jim through friends.

We moved in to­gether not long af­ter, but even then, I was still in a lot of pain.

It felt like I was for­ever go­ing back and forth to the doc­tors.

I took up swim­ming, hop­ing that it would help to ease the pressure on my joints, but by the time I fell preg­nant again in 2011, I was in even more pain than ever.

Lift­ing the kids, bend­ing down to pick some­thing up, or even just stretch­ing – the slight­est pressure would cause my knees, wrists or shoul­ders to pop out.

Once I dis­lo­cated my fin­ger just pick­ing up a blan­ket.

Each time, Jim would rush me to the hospi­tal and I’d wince as my bones were pushed back into place.

By May 2011, I was des­per­ate for an­swers, so I went to see a phys­io­ther­a­pist.

‘You have Eh­lers-dan­los syn­drome (EDS),’ he said, af­ter ex­am­in­ing me.

It was a very rare ge­netic con­di­tion that caused hy­per­mo­bil­ity in the joints.

And while there isn’t a cure, I was just re­lieved to fi­nally know what was wrong with me.

Then in 2012, I gave birth to my son, Sa­muel.

By then, I was tak­ing strong painkillers ev­ery day, but with the help of reg­u­lar physio ses­sions, things started to im­prove.

Then one day in Feb­ru­ary 2016, I knocked my head on the car boot.

While most peo­ple might have just suf­fered a bruise, I ended up be­ing bed­bound for days, un­able to walk or even sit up.

A scan at the hospi­tal re­vealed that the EDS had made my neck un­sta­ble and the bones were com­press­ing my brain, caus­ing my legs to be­come weak, a ring­ing in my ears, and dou­ble vi­sion.

Con­fined to a wheel­chair, I had to take up to 50 tablets a day and wear a neck brace.

‘I’m afraid there’s noth­ing more that can be done in the UK,’ my doc­tor told me.

But, af­ter do­ing some re­search found a sur­geon in Spain who could op­er­ate on my neck – but the pro­ce­dure would cost £60,000. So I started fundrais­ing, and, thanks to a loan from my mum and dad, by April last year, I had raised enough money for my first bout of surgery. A year later, last July, I had a sec­ond op, this time on my spine. To­day, while I still rely on a wheel­chair from time to time, I’m a lot more mo­bile than I used to be. My joints still dis­lo­cate some­times if I’m not care­ful, but I’m learn­ing to cope with it. I refuse to let my con­di­tion stop me from be­ing a good mum. Af­ter all, my fam­ily is my rea­son to keep fight­ing.

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